Here in the Day family, I'm always advocating for clever use of resources. Our household duties are often solved with either delegation or automation.”Work smarter, not harder” is the driving philosophy around here! Delegating things can be challenging, though, if you're isolated or travel a lot or simply don't want other people mucking around in your house. For seniors and active families, it can be a financial and time burden to manage the comings and goings of helpers. That's when smart home features can step up and hold down the fort to give you the most independent life possible.
My dad's house is a few hours away and we're taking an active role in his health, so smart home features have been front of mind as he's become more reliant on technology to stay connected to us. We got to tour our sponsor Cox's latest Smart Home showcase last week, and it was PACKED full of cool features to power an independent life. With over 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day, my generation is rapidly adding “care” to their list of daily to-dos. Fortunately, technology can help us all to age in place with monitoring, food services, safety and more – all powered by ultra-fast and secure internet.
If you're looking for better ways to work from home, manage health and entertainment or are hoping that smart home tech can keep a busy household running smoothly, there are a variety of high-speed connected features that can help you live a more independent life.
An Independent Smart Home
Smart Light Bulbs
Want to turn your lights on and off based on the typical timing of your day? Can do! You can even program them to be activated by your real-life comings-and-goings.
Sous Vide Cookers
Get a restaurant-quality meal with NO clean-up using one of these fancy machines that prepares a bagged meal in a pot of water to the perfect level of tenderness. Connected sous vide cookers can be remote-started or even sync to a service that delivers ready-to-go, scannable meals that can be set to auto-replenish when you've eaten a certain number of them. For families wanting to get really granular about nutrition, the HAPIfork is an electronic fork that monitors and tracks eating habits.
Feel like cooking for yourself? Amazon Fresh can deliver all the ingredients you need. There are a ton of competing grocery delivery services including independent grocery stores, InstaCart, Chipt, Jet, Google Express and more.
The WeMo Smart Slow Cooker app lets you simply decide when you want dinner and follow instructions. Add the ingredients, push a button, and dinner will be done before you know it.
There are dozens of connected coffee makers on the market – we use one at home! For people who are set in stone with their coffee preferences, the Behmor Brewer lets you adjust pre-soak, temperature and brewing time and alerts you with a text when your cup is ready.
Brooke Douglas from Nutrition Authority guides clients to better choices using outpatient counseling via the internet. This is perfect for patients who may receive guidance from doctors such as “take vitamin E” or “eat more fish” but who want a little more hand-holding when it comes to making purchases and selecting their meals.
For people who want to learn but are unable to commit to in-person classes on a regular basis, there are tons of forums and platforms! Visit Craftsy.com, DoYogaWithMe.com, SeniorForums.com and OkBridge.com to dip your toes into the online community.
Connected Workouts with Remote Therapists
The Breg Flex home recovery system uses bluetooth sensors to capture range of motion and guide patients through physical therapy with an app. The Apple Watch is another option for light activity tracking so concerned family members can make sure their loved ones are getting up and moving around each day. It also has an Alert button in case of emergency.
Connected thermometers and blood pressure monitors help doctors access tons of data through online health meeting solutions such as Trapollo.
The LiveFine Automatic Pill Dispenser can be pre-loaded with up to 28 days of medications in sealed compartments, set to dispense with an alert on your own schedule. I've tried all sorts of alarms and reminders for my own medication and what I love most about this one is that it won't stop beeping until the pill compartment is actually opened. No more turning off the alarm and getting distracted!
For extra peace of mind, you can literally get face-to-face with your loved ones from afar using the Double Robotics Double 2 Robot, which will wheel you into their presence from anywhere in the world.
Smart Assistants with Video Chat
The Amazon Echo hands-free speaker lets you play music, sports casts, news, weather and more with a simple voice command. The Show version can even send and receive video calls.
Amazon Dash Buttons
If you're a fan of Amazon technology, you can get Dash Buttons that will auto-reorder the things you use most with a simple touch of a button. Never run out of toilet paper again!
Alexa-Connected Trash Can
Take Alexa a step further with the GeniCan, which scans bar codes as items are thrown away and adds it to a shopping list which can order from Amazon with a one-click confirmation.
This smart vacuum learns the layout of your home and automatically cleans up after you – even under sofas and cushions. The iRobot Roomba 960 is voice-activated so you don't even have to setup a timer or manage it in an app. All you have to do is ask.
The Feed and Go Feeder lets busy (or forgetful) people automate up to six pet feedings and check in on them with a built-in webcam.
If you like the idea of a pet, but not all the responsibility that goes into actually owning one, there's a solution. The Joy for All Orange Tabby Cat is a model cat with realistic fur and sensors that let it respond to human interaction like a real pet would.
Cox has their own proprietary flood alert system that senses moisture and alerts you through their Homelife service. Having experienced a kitchen flood while we were out of town, I can attest to what a huge money-saver this could be!
Broken Window Alert
Another Homelife service feature, the Cox Smart Glass Break Sensor detects the sound of glass windows or doors breaking and alerts residents.
These wireless devices detect when specific doors or windows are opened. They can even be place don a medicine cabinet so families can be alerted if one has been opened at the wrong time.
Stay in the know and get real-time alerts in case of intruders. This is also another great way to keep an eye on relatives from afar: loved ones can be kept aware of motion throughout the house and get notified if someone is having trouble sleeping, or if there isn't any motion during a time when they'd normally be up and about.
Catch the action as it happens!
Smart Carbon Monoxide Detector
We have one of these in our home, and it's a huge relief knowing that we'll be alerted immediately if there's a leak – whether we're home or not.
Smart Smoke Detector
The biggest benefit I've found in smart smoke detectors is that they really are smart. No more incessant alarms over bacon or sausage. The alert can detect a threat and quickly figure out if it's an actual fire – or if it's just dinner.
Check on air quality remotely. For older people, those who are away from their home often, or people with lung issues, air quality is a constant concern! We use a Dyson Pure Cool Link to make sure we're always walking into a home that's as free of allergens and pollutants as possible.
Get the latest time, weather, stocks, email updates and more with LaMetric.
Keep track of weight gain or weight loss!
The Oral-B Pro 5000 toothbrush tells you if you're brushing too hard and if you've brushed long enough. The app will even send a reminder to brush your teeth!
If you have a black thumb, no worries! The Parrot Pot gives plants the right amount of water every day, auto-monitoring light, temperature, soil moisture and fertilizer levels.
Still haven't seen a control for your favorite item? Just about anything can be remotely turned on and off with smart switches! The TP-Link Smart Plug lets you set up schedules and timers for your smart phone, and Amazon Echo adds voice control so you can even adapt older technology to today's demanding standards.
Virtual Reality Experiences
Rendever, a start-up from the MIT AgeLab, pairs in-home virtual reality cameras with an on-the-go 360-degree camera so that loved ones can remotely join their family in their experiences all around the world. This is perfect for seniors who are immobile, or people who simply live busy lives and aspire to see more. I got to take a whirl through the Taj Mahal and it was absolutely incredible! There are numerous pre-recorded travel experiences for subscribers to step into and stretch their boundaries form the comfort of home.
Want a central control for all of these cool gadgets? Most can be accessed with an app on your phone, or you can get an in-home tablet display to provide control with a click!
To keep pace with all this data, Cox's residential gigabit internet service G1GABLAST offers speeds 100 times faster than the average speed in the US today and their Panoramic WiFi services makes sure the entire home has access. They also have their own security monitoring system called Cox Homelife, which features live HD video cameras and many of the smart home controls showcased above as well as rules and notifications that can let families know if their loved ones have opened certain doors or cabinets. And of course, Cox Contour is their blazing-fast entertainment option with voice control.
What smart home features do you use in your home?